This policy of Stalin's began in 1929. According to his plan, all private property was to be abolished. Every villager would have to give to the state a certain quota of his production and was prohibited from selling his own produce. The villagers' quotas were very high and to meet it, most had to surrender everything they had. The tyranny Lenin had begun in the 1920's resumed once more.
To implement collectivization, Stalin employed the cruelest methods. Those who resisted were killed, exiled to Siberia (essentially, murder over the long term) or left to starve (slow murder). Throughout the whole country, kulaks (rich landowners) who resisted collectivization—and, therefore, Communism in general—were hunted down. The Black Book of Communism describes this policy:
Peasants in Ukraine in 1929 listening to collectivization propaganda. Collectivization was presented as a way to increase agricultural yield, but its implementation caused a terrible famine.
The kulaks who resisted collectivization were shot, and the others were deported with their wives, children and elderly family members. Although not all kulaks were exterminated directly, sentences of forced labor in wilderness areas of Siberia or the far north left them with scant chance of survival. Several tens of thousands perished there; the exact number of victims remains unknown. As for the great famine in Ukraine in 1932-33, which resulted from the rural population's resistance to forced collectivization, 6 million died in a period of several months.32
The savagery inflicted on the kulaks included the most horrendous tortures. In a letter to Stalin in April 1933, the writer Mikhail Sholokhov wrote:
In the Napolovski kolkhoz [a collective farm in the Soviet Union] a certain Plotkin, plenipotentiary for the district committee, forced the collective workers to stretch out on stoves heated till they were white hot; then he cooled them off by leaving them naked in a hangar. 33
Stalin's regime, like Lenin's before it, created imaginary enemies they called "kulaks." They targeted anyone they wanted to eliminate by stamping them with this name. It was easy for the Communists to categorize those they didn't like as "kulaks" and to send orders to every city, commanding that a certain number of these "kulaks" be rounded and executed. This is described in The Black Book of Communism:
In such conditions, it is not surprising that in certain districts between 80 and 90 percent of those victimized by the dekulakization process were serednyaki, or middle-income peasants. The brigades had to meet the required quotas and, if possible, surpass them. Peasants were arrested and deported for having sold grain on the market or for having had an employee to help with the harvest back in 1925 or 1926, for possessing two samovars, for having killed a pig in September 1929 "with the intention of consuming it themselves and thus keeping it from socialist appropriation." Peasants were arrested on the pretext that they had "taken part in commerce," when all they had done was sell something of their own making. One peasant was deported on the pretext that his uncle had been a tsarist officer; another was labeled a kulak on account of his "excessive visits to the church." But most often, people were classed as kulaks simply on the grounds that they had resisted collectivization. At times confusion reigned in the dekulakization brigades to an almost comic extreme: in one city in Ukraine, for example, aserednyak who was a member of a dekulakization brigade was himself arrested by a member of another brigade that was operating on the other side of the town. 34
At the top of the list of those branded as kulaks were the clergy. In 1930, more than 13,000 priests were "dekulakized." In many villages and towns, collectivization began symbolically with the closing of the church and the the removal of local religious leaders.35
Collectivization had two major results: famine and exile.